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Minding Your Manners for the Conference Interview

Interviewing Illustration Careers

Brian Taylor

By David D. Perlmutter

It was a heady time for a graduate student at his national conference as he rushed from one job interview to another. Late to one and out of breath, he quickly began his introductory talking points: how he was just the right fit for the position, the department, and the university. The members of the search committee sat in silence until the student paused, allowing one of them to interject politely: “I think you’re in the wrong room. You’ve been talking about another school.”

The faculty-job-search process is a particular mix of the professional and the ad hoc, the programmed and the unexpected. Unlike in corporate America where a few people, or just one, may play a direct role in nonexecutive hiring, searches for assistant-professor posts may involve scores of people, from undergraduates who evaluate a candidate’s teaching presentation to a college dean who meets with the potential hire one on one.

The campus visit by a finalist is the subject of much scrutiny, but the equally vital meet-up that happens first is the conference interview. That is the point where you meet faculty members from your desired employer for possibly the first time, and potentially the last. Because of the importance of the occasion, the conference interview is worth planning—in detail. At the same time, it is also an occasion to accept the unhappy, the surprising, or the absurd with good humor and levelheadedness.

If you can, go. It is an old insight about politics and hiring that the world belongs to the people who show up. Conference interviews are not an endangered species, but their primacy has been challenged by the increasing costs of attending conferences, the reduced (in some fields) number of positions open, and the rise of the Skype interview as a replacement. Nevertheless, if you can manage it, go to the conferences identified by your advisers.

Conferences, despite their preplanned nature, are free-flowing entities. Unforeseen opportunities will pop up. Departments may have secured permission to hire only after the conference program went to press, and then decided to hold interviews at the last minute. Or maybe a job is not yet “official,” but the department is doing selective interviews in anticipation.

You may even have others connect the dots for you. During a recent research panel at a conference, one of our doctoral students impressed an attendee who then invited the student to interview for a position he had not heard was open. Impromptu recruiting is not unusual.

If you have a choice between doing an initial interview by phone or in person at a conference, choose the latter. I have no data to prove that people who interview at conferences tend to be invited more often as campus finalists than those who interview by phone or Skype. But it simply makes sense that you have a better chance of making a good first impression of the real you if you meet key players face to face. In an era in which a single tenure-track opening attracts hundreds of applicants, any narrowing of the odds can help.

Be ready for your close-up—all the time. A friend, now a professor, once described going to a conference as a graduate student looking decidedly casual in a T-shirt, sandals, and scruffy coiffure. He planned to tidy himself later for his paper presentation. Then he ran into some people who knew his adviser and who had an opening in their department. They were just finishing their interviews but wanted to squeeze him in—in an hour. He showed up dressed nicely, well shaved, and wet-combed. A member of the committee commented, “You clean up well, young man.”

Fields and institutions differ in their sartorial and grooming standards for job candidates. If you’re interviewing for a job as an assistant professor of painting at a freethinking liberal-arts college, the dress code is going to be different than if you’re seeking to become an assistant professor of accounting at a conservative religious university. There are few academic hiring situations, however, where being “cleaned up” will make a bad impression.

Of course you must also be ready intellectually. A spontaneous interview might erupt at any moment in an elevator. Last-minute schedule changes could force an earlier-than-expected meeting: “Hello? I know we planned to meet on Friday, but we need to do our interview now because our chair is leaving early.” Furthermore, in today’s hiring environment the whole world is listening. I have heard graduate students make comments in hallways and coffee shops at the conference hotel that would not go over well if heard by members of a search committee. And who is to say they are not sitting at the next booth?

So prep for a job interview before you leave home, and be ready to go into candidate mode at the extension of a hand to shake.

Know the players and the playhouse. That 10,000-times-told piece of advice about job interviews is always right: Personalize your application, especially when you are meeting anyone face to face. If possible, try to find out which members of the department will be conducting the interview. Once you have their names, do your homework—their history, accomplishments, role in the department. You don’t need to get too chummy, but recognizing them and having something to say about a topic you share in common is always a good icebreaker and shows you care about your potential colleagues and the open position. Make sure to send their names to your references and advisers, asking if any of them have a connection.

Do research on the department, too—what it does, what it wants, and where it’s going. Take your notes to your interview. It is both helpful and impressive if you can pull out a file card (or a screen on your iPad) that lists, for example, the courses the college offers that you think you can teach.

Keep your answers short and on message. Think of a conference interview as akin to a press conference. You will get peppered with questions, ranging from the expected (“What attracts you to our opening?”) to the at-best inadvisable (“Hail from Utah, eh? So does that mean you are Mormon?”) to the zany (“If you could be any kind of nucleic acid, what kind would you be?”). Your level of coolness under fire will be one way people evaluate you. Whatever you are asked, come to the meeting with talking points and use them. If your research experience and publications exactly fit the qualifications stated in the job ad, make sure the committee knows that. Don’t let the interview end without enumerating your strengths.

Read the room. Preparation and rehearsal are vital to job interviewing, but anything can be overdone or come off as forced. And you need to be ready to adapt if you encounter topics you haven’t prepared for. Make your points, but don’t forget to listen to the members of the search committee and notice the subtler signals of body language.

There is no hard-and-fast rule about the length of your answers to questions. You should, however, through roaming eye contact, be able to gauge when enough is enough and your interviewers want you to move on.

Two rhetorical tools in your interview kit may help out in such situations. First, don’t just memorize a fixed answer to common questions. Develop both a short and long version of your answer. Second, have a “wrap up” comment in reserve that allows you to wind down when you sense they want you to finish. Example: In answer to a research question, say, “Anyway, I have much more on this in my most recent paper, and I can send it to you, if you wish.”

Don’t overschedule yourself. Conferences are expensive, budgets are tight, and the time passes quickly. Many graduate students on the job market try to maximize their investment by tightly scheduling their days and nights on site. That strategy is sensible—until it interferes with your interviews. The point is to be “tanned, rested, and ready” when your moment to shine is nigh. Showing up five minutes late, sweating and flustered, because you had another meeting that ran overtime does not make a good impression.

Plan some downtime. Rest, especially between interviews, if you can, and allow yourself Zen interludes to get ready mentally and review your notes for the next interview. Likewise, get to know the conference site plan; be realistic about how long it takes to get from one room to another. Keep in mind that while conference traversing is chock full of chance encounters with friends, it is also possible that new job contacts might surface and slow you down.

Come with handouts. A graduate student told me he had “aced” a conference interview: He had received great responses to his answers and felt like he had truly impressed his audience. The afterglow lasted for two days until he ran into a member of the search committee who obviously could not remember who he was without some awkward prompting. It turned out the panel had interviewed a dozen other candidates as well. (Not to mention that for senior professors, conferences are continual memory challenges, with hundreds of vaguely familiar faces alongside the well-known ones.)

One tactic to make you stand out is the handout. Bring extra copies of your CV, maybe even some syllabi, and so on. But also consider providing a short—no more than a page—summary of your qualifications. Some candidates go further to help memory prompts by including their photo on the page. Use that sheet to answer some of the obvious interview questions like: “Which of our classes do you see yourself teaching?”

Say thanks, but not too much. You will find wildly varying advice on the protocol of post-interview acknowledgments. My age and ancestry drive me to advise the formal: Send a written thank you (on a card, not copy paper) to anyone who interviewed you. Other senior faculty members will tell you not to bother, but I think some form of timely thanks is justified, especially if you were treated well.

A final note. One of the most tragic circumstances of modern academic hiring is that you can’t give candidates real—or really any—advice on what they did wrong. (In a future column I will talk about some ways to figure that out for yourself.) It is sad to see a candidate perform well in many ways but then display some flaws in, say, the research presentation that may eventually sink the person’s candidacy. Clueless about the error, the candidate will presumably make it again at future interviews.

A conference interview is no guaranteed bridge to being a finalist for an academic position. It does, however, afford an early test market for some of the ideas, talking points, manner, and tone that you will offer in the much more grueling campus visit. A conference interview is a great opportunity to learn what scores and what falls flat.

David D. Perlmutter is director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a professor and faculty fellow at the University of Iowa.

Source: http://chronicle.com/article/Minding-Your-Manners-for-the/134184/


IBIS World is Added

We are pleased to announce the addition of IBIS World to our lineup of industry reports.  IBIS World offers comprehensive, uniform industry reports on all NAICS industries down to the 5 digit level. Each US Industry report describes the following for a given industry:

  • products and services,
  • segmentation,
  • supply chain
  • external drivers,
  • current performance,
  • competitive landscape,
  • major players,
  • key statistics and ratios
  • a forecast for future performance

Industry specific jargon is defined and relevant trade associations are listed as sources of additional information.  These industry reports are great tools for bringing managers, economists, and marketers up to speed fast.

IBIS World also has a smaller but growing collection of global industry reports and a spectacular collection of specialized US industry reports.  Need a report on Karaoke Bars?  You’ll be  singing IBIS World’s praises.  How about Pilates and Yoga Studios?  Not a stretch for IBIS World.  And step right up for Online Shoe Sales.  IBIS World specialized industry reports are not limited to consumer goods:  They cover financial, technology, life science, industrial and engineering sectors as well.

IBIS World is available from the Database A-Z list.


New Faculty Welcomed

Carol Weiss, Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning (VITAL) director, and her assistant, Ramona Kuczewski, planned the New Faculty Orientation program, part of which was held in Falvey Memorial Library. University Librarian and Director Joe Lucia welcomed faculty and introduced librarians and staff. Jutta Seibert, Academic Integration team leader, coordinated the Library’s portion of the orientation. Faculty were encouraged to sit in groups according to discipline for informal discussions with liaison librarians.

Lt. John Krewer, Lt. Timothy Rustico and Theodore Arapis










Patrick J. Okernick and Jutta Seibert









Sue Ottignon, Francois Massonnat and Salvatore Pappalardo













Where in the world are the books in Falvey West?

We had big “boots” to fill in Falvey West, and fill them we did. After we moved the journals in 2010, we had the shelving space thoroughly scrubbed and freshly painted. Still, some folks had trouble finding their way to Falvey West, so we mounted large signs on the Falvey first floor. As you enter the Library, head north (straight); then turn left (west) before you reach the Griffin room.

Falvey West (ground – 2nd floor) contains main stacks books with call numbers A – D. All other main stacks books are on the 3rd and 4th floors of the main library building.

Directional signs have been posted on each floor of Falvey West to help pioneering patrons get around. We’ve also added a computer to each floor for searching the catalog or trying our interactive map. Still have questions? Mosey on over to the front desk!

Graphic design by Joanne Quinn


Need expert help with your research project? Falvey’s librarians can help!

By Kimberley Bugg

Barbara Quintiliano, librarian, works with graduate student Bharath Chouta

Librarians are available to help with your research needs. You will find their offices located on the library second floor (Rooms 220-230) in the Research Center of the Learning Commons. You may contact them in a variety of ways: in-person, chat, phone and email.  Whether you are in the building or elsewhere, you can call a librarian at 610-519-4273 or email a librarian at ref@villanova.edu.



In Person: Much like faculty, librarians maintain office hours during the week and are available on Sundays.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday: 9am – 8pm

Thursday: 9am – 6pm

Friday: 10am – 4pm

Sunday: 2pm – 8pm

During office hours you can walk right into the Library and request to see the on call librarian immediately. You can also contact a subject librarian directly to set up an appointment.

Chat: Librarians are available by chat during office hours, as well as 8pm- 10pm on Mondays and on Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm. Chatting with a librarian is easy: simply find the green dot at the bottom of the library website and open a chat box:

For more information, go to the Contact Us library web page.

Kimberley Bugg is the Information and Research Assistance team leader.



"Harry Potter" Out Loud

In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book’s publication, Falvey Memorial Library will hold a marathon reading of every Potter book, read out loud, from cover-to-cover from 12 noon to 12 midnight Wednesdays in the first floor library lounge.

Raffle tickets for prizes! A costume contest with prizes! Refreshments and more prizes!

This semester-long event is a unique and fun opportunity to introduce new readers to the series and reunite our students with the characters that sparked their interest in reading. It is also a perfect opportunity for faculty members to introduce their students to both Falvey Memorial Library and the surprisingly deep philosophical and social themes of Rowling’s influential series.

This event is open to all members of the Villanova University community and their families.

Special events details:

-Raffle tickets will be given to every person who reads and every person who comes in full costume (robes, etc.) to each reading night.  The raffle drawing for a Kindle pre-loaded with all seven Harry Potter books will be held on December 5.

– A costume contest with prizes will be held on Halloween. The grand prize for the costume contest will be an iPod Shuffle.

– Refreshments and small prizes will be awarded each reading night.

Mark your calendars:

September: 12, 19, 26

October: 3, 24, 31

November: 7, 14, 28

December: 5

For more information please contact Rob LeBlanc, First Year Experience & Humanities Librarian, Falvey Memorial Library at robert.leblanc@villanova.edu


Writing Center Workshop Schedule

The Villanova University Writing Center announces its schedule of

FALL 2012


 Tuesday, Sept. 11—Integrating Quotations

Monday, Sept. 17—The Debatable Thesis

Monday, Sept. 24—The Five Fatal Errors of Introductions

Tuesday, Oct. 2—The Power of Punctuation

Monday, Oct. 8—Trim the Fat: Make Your Writing Concise

Tuesday, Oct. 23—Sharpening Your Academic Voice

Thursday, Nov. 1—Crafting Your Personal Statement

Sunday, Nov. 4—The Art of Transitions

Tuesday, Nov. 13—Avoiding the Deadly Dumbbell: Pumping Up Your Body Paragraphs

Monday, Nov. 26—Who’s Afraid of the MLA?


All workshops are at 7:30 p.m in Room 210, the Writing Center, Learning Commons in Falvey, Falvey Memorial Library. Students receive a certificate of attendance and a handout for future reference.



UConn TT position Philosophy & Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

  Position Summary
  Assistant Professor (tenure-track), joint position in Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, to begin August 2013, teaching load 2 + 2. AOS: Open. AOC: Open.
  Minimum Qualifications: The candidate must have a record demonstrating an exceptionally promising research program that contributes both to Philosophy and to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Research areas of particular interest are those that intersect with the WGSS Program’s emphasis on Science, Health, and Technology, including, but not limited to, Environmental Ethics, Medical Ethics, Bioethics, Disability Studies, Ethics and New Technologies, and Philosophy of Science. The candidate must be qualified to teach in our strong analytic philosophy PhD program, and preferably will show evidence of being prepared to teach advanced undergraduate classes in core WGSS subjects. The candidate must have completed all the requirements for a PhD (or foreign equivalent) by August 23, 2013.
  Appointment Terms
  Tenure-track position to begin August 2013.
  To Apply
  Apply through Husky Hire [UConn.edu, Philosophy search, 2013115] by uploading a CV, cover letter, statement of research interests, teaching portfolio, and writing sample(s) via Husky Hire. Please have referees email at least 3 confidential letters of recommendation to philosophyjob@uconn.edu with your name followed by WGSS in the subject line. Applications must be received by November 1, 2012. The University of Connecticut is an EEO/AA Employer. The University of Connecticut actively solicits applications from minorities, women, and people with disabilities.


Database Trial: PsycTESTS

Students are constantly looking for tests and measures to use as in their research and this 30 day  trial to PsycTESTS offers more than 2,000 standardized and published tests at  http://psycnet.apa. Take a look! Tell me what you think!

PsycTESTS serves as a repository for the full text of psychological tests and measures
as well as a rich source of structured information about the tests. A wide variety of test
types are included in PsycTESTS, including achievement and aptitude tests, intelligence
tests, tests of cognitive functioning, occupational tests, personality tests, and so on.

The database includes
■ The full text of psychological tests and measures, as available
■ Full bibliographic records and descriptive summaries of tests in each record
■ Descriptive summaries of commercially available tests with links to the publisher
■ A special interactive segment with tests from the Archives of the History of
American Psychology, for which APA has not yet identified literature

PsycTESTS includes three kinds of tests:

  • Unpublished tests ( those developed by researchers for use in their work but not made commercially available)
  • Tests from the Archives of the History of American Psychology at the University of Akron. These tests may not be literature based.
  • Commercially available tests

All records in PsycTESTS are indexed and include fields for validity and reliability data
(when available), test purpose, construct, format, number of items, and more.


Two vintage romances available for proofreading

The Bride of the Tomb and Queenie's Terrible Secret (cover)The latest Digital Library offering to enter the distributed proofreaders project is an omnibus volume containing two vintage romance novels: The Bride of the Tomb and Queenie’s Terrible Secret.

The Bride of the Tomb was an early hit from Mrs. Alex. McVeigh Miller, a successful author in her day, and it remains prominent enough to merit scholarly analysis. Queenie’s Terrible Secret is a less well-known novel by the same writer, but it offers the same brand of melodrama, telling (as its subtitle explains) of “A Young Girl’s Strange Fate.”

This particular combined edition is part of Street & Smith’s Eagle series of dime novels; covers of other volumes from the series can be seen in Syracuse University Library’s Street & Smith Cover Art Collection.

If you want to learn more about our proofreading efforts and find out how to help, see Proofreading the Digital Library.


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Last Modified: September 6, 2012